The Collapse of Moral Values
But what about all the men? This was a moment of reckoning for male identity too. Brought up on solid foundations of presumption and prejudice,
70s man was now forced to reconsider attitudes he'd always taken for granted. To change the way he thought, spoke and behaved, to challenge traditional
assumptions about everything from the world of work to his weekend pleasures.
Just 10 years earlier, there had still been one unashamedly masculine pursuit of which a nation could be proud, an arena in which 11 young
Englishman had conquered the world.
In October 1976, the heroes of England's famous World Cup victory reunited for a friendly in Telford.
Commentator "Hairstyles have altered, of course, and some of the players have become a bit broader around the waist but, as Bobby Moore led the
old team out, things seem to have changed very little."
A sell-out crowd packed into the Bucks Head Stadium to see these icons of the game back together again and to remember the greatest moment in English football.
Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, the Charlton brothers, the heroes of '66 together again. It's an unashamedly nostalgic image but it was one horribly out of
touch with reality!
Football fans on bus "Stab, stab, stab the bastards! Stab, stab, stab the bastards!"
Football fan "All we're going for is a good game of football, a good punch-up and a good piss-up."
New reporter "We saw clearly the thuggery of a group of hooligans who could never have claimed to have come along, simply, to enjoy the football."
Football fan "If some dirty northerner spits up at me, I'll put a fucking pint glass in his head."
Football, the preserve of fathers and sons for generations, was in crisis. Many young fans were carried away by a culture of casual violence.
Railway stations, high streets, motorway services, come Saturday afternoons, these were the realms of football's bootboys. Every football
club had its gangs and at three o'clock on a Saturday, cities across the land braced themselves for the inevitable.
This is Molineux, the home of my team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, pride of the Midlands. Today the atmosphere's never been more family friendly.
But in August 1975, Wolves hosted the most-feared club in the country. Manchester United. Football violence was so common that the Daily Mirror
even started running a regular column, The League of Violence. And in 1975, Manchester United where well clear at the top.
United scored two late match-winning goals and then their most notorious fans, the Stretford Enders, went on the rampage. As the Stretford
Enders ran amok, 14 people were stabbed, hundreds of bottles were thrown and dozens of businesses were looted. They even ransacked the Wolves
club shop. The police finally managed to corner them here, outside the Molineux hotel, using dogs and horses to pen them in.
Sir Matt Busby
That afternoon, there were mass arrests from York to Ipswich, from Southend to Stoke. Football violence had become a brutal nationwide
epidemic. This is a photograph showing some of the horrific weapons the police confiscated from suspected hooligans. There's an axe, a meat
cleaver, knives, scissors, daggers, darts. It's a truly extraordinary assortment of hardware. Some of the weapons, though, were a little
bit more imaginative. The police even confiscated a hairbrush.
Many older fans were horrified and nobody captured their disgust better than the Manchester United legend Sir Matt Busby. "We don't
want them. I wish we could find them and throw them in the river or something."
What made football hooliganism so deeply disturbing was that it was such a public and unashamed exhibition of raw, tribal aggression.
Britain was supposed to be the country of the stiff upper lip, a land where the youngsters obeyed the law, the streets were safe, and
a spirit of quiet moderation ruled our daily lives.
But now a new generation, apparently steeped in bloodshed, appeared to be defying everything that Britain stood for. But why was
the violence escalating now? In 1977, the government commissioned a survey into Britain's hobbies. You've got everything here from
fishing and football to darts and DIY. What all these dry facts and figures show is that for the ordinary British bloke, Saturday
afternoons no longer revolved around the beautiful game.
For decades, generations of men, young and old, had watched their local teams side-by-side. But in the mid-70s, as men developed new
interests and wider responsibilities, that tradition broke down.
At weekends, older men were more likely to be found wandering round garden centres or DIY stores than they were standing on the windswept
terraces. Without the role models in the stands, without the disapproving looks of dads and granddads to keep the troublemakers in line, the
dynamic of the football crowd shifted.
As living standards had risen and older men invested their time and money in more domestic pursuits, football attendances had begun to
slide. It wasn't just a fact that people were staying away from football because of hooliganism. It was the fact that people were staying
away from football that allowed hooliganism to thrive. And once established, the momentum towards greater violence and greater bloodshed
This wasn't just a story about football. This seemed to capture so much of what was wrong with Britain. The scenes of appalling violence
suggested that the nation was tearing itself apart and that traditional moral values, respected for generations, had simply collapsed.
And yet despite the crisis in the stands and fighting in the streets, most young boys shared the same dream. Being a footballer. The stars
of the day were paid more than ever before. Their lifestyles were increasingly touched with glamour and celebrity.